20/20 event examines God’s perspective of the church
    February 11 2014 by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor

    The 2014 20/20 Collegiate Conference theme, “Ekklesia,” examined God’s perspective of the church. Approximately 600 attendees were taught the nature and importance of Christ’s church.
    Hosted on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, the conference featured speakers Daniel Akin, Matt Carter, Dhati Lewis, Tony Merida, Russell Moore and Steve Timmis.
    In plenary session one on Feb. 7 Matt Carter, lead pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, spoke about the secondary calling of the church. “This is,” said Carter, “the calling to ‘go.’” Carter preached from Luke 10. He said, “The world population recently broke the seven billion mark, and roughly 6.4 billion have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. Does that break your heart?”
    Carter spoke about Ronnie Smith, the American teacher who was shot multiple times and killed during his morning jog near the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Smith served on staff at Austin Stone Community Church before moving to Libya.
    The number of lost people in the world broke the heart of Smith, said Carter. On his church profile page, Smith once said, “If [the church is] challenged to live a life wholly devoted to Christ and His name and His purpose are exalted over our agenda, then I think God will continue to bless us with His Spirit. Our vision must always be God-centered.”

    SEBTS photo by Maria Estes
    From left: Tony Merida, pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh and associate professor of preaching at Southeastern; Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Steve Timmis, co-founder of The Crowded House; Matt Carter, lead pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas; Dhati Lewis, lead pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta, Ga; and Daniel Akin, Southeastern’s president.

    Carter said, “The church should be passionate about the nations because Jesus was passionate about the nations and guess what? God uses ordinary people like you, Ronnie and me to win the nations for Christ.”

    Preaching from James 2, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said, “Scripture tells us that the church is not just a gathered people who listen to sermons and sing songs together.
    “The church is an embassy, an extension of another kingdom. What happens within the church is meant to point everyone on the outside to the reality of the Kingdom of God.”
    Contextualizing James 2, Moore said that God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith. Instead of having churches shaped by culture and society, he said, churches are to be shaped first and foremost by the Kingdom of God.
    “As Kingdom ambassadors, the church is to speak about the Kingdom that is coming, which means, like any embassy we speak only what we are receiving from the home country.”
    Moore said, “When you come together in faith, you are a multi-cultural family gathered around the throne of Christ. We are to be an embassy of God that blows away all of those other worldly kingdoms.”
    “In fact, the church isn’t like a family, it is a family,” said Dhati Lewis, lead pastor at Blueprint Church in Atlanta, Ga.
    Lewis said that churches must be willing to fight for a discipleship culture. “With much longsuffering,” Lewis said, “the church is called to be a people who suffer long with one another, who are there for one another and who are fighting for each other. Just like family.”
    Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, opened the Feb. 8 afternoon session with a posture of a father. He said, “Since most of you here today are in your 20s, I could be your father.
    Because of this, I would like to give you some portraits of a healthy church so that you can choose a faithful church that ultimately stands on an infallible and inerrant Bible.”
    Teaching from 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Akin said that a healthy church truly knows its identity in Christ.
    “A church prioritizes the spiritual essentials. It must also long for the unmerited love of God and most importantly, the gospel should be at the heart and soul of every church,” said Akin.
    Akin noted that everyone has a role model and when churches acknowledge this truth, they can raise up disciples that follow the right role models.
    Akin said, “Be sure to ask this question: ‘Who are your heroes?’ Because you will only be the right role model if you follow the right role model.”
    Opening his session with Dietrich Bonheoffer’s quote – “It is grace and nothing but grace that we are allowed to live in community with brothers and sisters” – Tony Merida challenged the attendees with a message from Galatians 5-6.
    The pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh and associate professor of preaching said, “There are four obstacles for a church: sensationalism which is being addicted to the dramatic; mysticism which focuses only on spiritual realities; idealism which loves ideas instead of physical people; and individualism which is concentrated on the ‘me’ of the individual and not the ‘we’ of the community.”
    Paul has a few correcting words for these obstacles, according to Merida.
    “Paul calls the church to be gentle restorers and humble burden-bearers in these chapters,” Merida said. “If fellow brothers or sisters are sinning, then we like a family provide discipline to restore them. If fellow brothers and sisters are heavy-laden, then we take on the burdens of our family.
    “Let’s be a people who practice godliness, and it is for Christ and through Christ that we live out this ordinary Christianity powerfully,” said Merida.
    When these things take place, Merida said, the obstacles that hinder the church would be weakened.
    Steve Timmis, co-founder of The Crowded House and director of Acts 29 in Western Europe, began his session with the question: “Are you going to be a spectator of the church or a participant in it? Those are your only options.”
    Timmis said that for some people, church is about architecture or worship or preaching. And for some, he said, it is about good friends.
    “What I hope you have heard throughout this conference is that these things are not what the church is really about. The church is formed by the gospel and for the gospel.
    “The church lives out this faith because God’s purpose has always been for His people to be missional, like God Himself. The gospel is about Christ’s name expanding and His Kingdom extending.”
    2/11/2014 10:13:02 AM by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: church, ERLC, SEBTS

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